As a result, installing marble floor tiles correctly is quite the skill, and is certainly a job best left to a professional to carry out. After all, not only does marble require specialist cutting equipment, but it also has to be cut in a certain way to maintain tile integrity.
However, if you feel that you’re up to the challenge of learning how to cut marble tiles correctly, and how to install marble floor tiles once they’re ready for laying, then here’s what you need to know about installing and cutting marble tiles yourself.
How to cut marble tiles
When it comes to learning how to cut marble, there are several key steps you must follow to ensure success. These steps are non-negotiable, and if you decide to cut corners by ignoring them, you will likely find that your marble tiles wind up fracturing or crumbling.
So, to avoid this risk, take the following precautionary steps:
1. Select the correct cutting tools
First things first, before you even begin to think about making your first marble cuts, you need to be sure that you have access to the right equipment, specifically a diamond-tipped wet saw for straight cuts and a diamond-tipped angle grinder for more complex shapes.
This required specialist equipment is why it is best to hire the help of a professional. However, both of these tools can be rented if desired, though you must familiarise yourself with how to use them properly to avoid any potential issues and injuries during the cutting process.
Under no circumstance should you use an alternative cutting tool, like a cheap flatbed tile cutter. Using this type of tool on your marble tiles will cause them to break across their seams when they are pushed through the wheel. This has nothing to do with tile quality issues, it’s just how marble is formed, which is why it needs special tools to be cut properly.
2. Draw and measure on the back of your tile where cuts need to be made
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with your tools, you next need to measure and mark out where on your marble you’ll be cutting.
You should do this on the back of the tile to avoid marking its finished side and make sure that you measure twice before cutting to minimise the chances of making mistakes and having to repeat the process.
3. Prepare your cutting tools
With your measurements marked, you now need to prepare your blades properly. For a wet saw, this means hooking it up to a water supply that will keep its blade wet throughout the cutting process, and for your angle grinder, having a source of water on hand that you can use to wet the blade as you cut to keep it cool.
Then, with your blades ready, put on your protective gear and do a practice cut on a discarded tile so that you can check your tools are working properly and you can experience the cutting process before you begin properly.
4. Make your cuts
With everything checked and ready to go, it’s time to start making your cuts. Starting with your wet saw, proceed to make any straight cuts you need.
Be sure to push the slab through the saw slowly as you do these cuts to prevent any tile damage, ensuring the blade is wet the whole way through. If not, you will need to stop and fix that issue. If at any point you see smoke as you’re cutting it means you're cutting too fast, and you need to slow down.
Once all your straight cuts have been successfully completed, you can move on to using your angle grinder, following the same rules as before as you cut but also making sure to clamp your tile in place so that it can’t move, and you don’t injure yourself.
5. Sand down the edge
Finally, with all your cuts successfully made, make use of a heavy-grade sandpaper to manually smooth the edges for a clean finish.
How to install marble floor tiles
Now that you know how to cut marble, let’s look at how you would go about laying a marble floor correctly:
1. Measure the area of the floor
Before any tiles can be laid, you first need to know just how many tiles you need to cover the spot you’re working on. You can do this by measuring the space and calculating its surface area.
Once you have this measurement, and you’ve checked it twice, you can then order the same volume of tiles, plus a little extra, to ensure you have enough to cover your floor’s entirety.
2. Clean and prepare your work surface
Next, you want to be sure that the floor you’re working on is clean of any dust, dirt, and rubble. Failing to do this will mean that your adhesive will have issues sticking to the subfloor, as dirt can interfere with its ability to bond properly.
On top of this, you want to be sure that your subfloor is level so that your tiles it flush with the floor and don’t stick out. You can do this by measuring it with a spirit level and then applying a self-levelling screen if required.
3. Perform a dry run
After your floor is clean and dry, you can perform what’s known as a dry run. This is where you lay your tiles down without adhesive in order to find the optimal laying pattern, get your tiles centred, and work out where you will need to cut tiles in order to fill awkward gaps.
You can find out more about how to do a dry run properly by reading our article: where to start tiling in different rooms of your home.
4. Lay down your tiles
Finally, with all your measurements and floor preparations completed, it’s time to start adhering your tiles to the floor. Using a marble-friendly adhesive, consistently apply it to your subfloor and then gently press your tiles into place, leaving a gap between each for grout.
You need to be delicate when doing this and avoid pushing down too hard, to avoid damaging your tiles. You should avoid laying any awkwardly shaped tiles that need cutting until last, that way you can be more accurate in your measurements when cutting.
5. Measure and cut your tiles to fill in any gaps
With most of your tiles laid, it’s time to measure and make the cuts on your remaining marble tiles by following the instructions laid out previously to fill in any gaps and complete the tiling of your floor.
Once all your tiles are down, wait an entire day for everything to dry before moving on to the final step in the process.
6. Apply your grout and sealer
Lastly, with all your tiles down and their adhesive dry, you can now grout and seal your tiles. We recommend one coat of sealant when the tiles have been laid and are dry before grouting, then one coat after grouting.
Once you’ve applied your grout, clean off any excess before it dries to avoid grout haze and then wait another twenty-four hours before applying your second coat of sealer, following the instructions provided on the product.
You should now have all the information you need to attempt cutting and laying a marble floor yourself.
For more information on tiles and the tiling process, get in touch with our experts directly, or browse the rest of our tile installation advice for more articles like this one – including our guide to Carrara marble.